Advancing Consumer Trust and Privacy: Internet Explorer in Windows 8

Posted by Brendon Lynch
Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

Today, Microsoft announced Windows 8 has reached Release Preview and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have “Do Not Track” (DNT) on by default. This post includes additional thoughts about this important milestone in our effort to advance trust and consumer privacy online. Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default. Consumers can change this setting, but the default will be to send the DNT signal to websites that consumers visit.

Consumer Choice and Control

The idea of a DNT signal was in part born out of the work of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission which, in a December 2010 report, called on the technology and advertising industries to create a more uniform and comprehensive consumer choice mechanism for online behavioral advertising targeting. Very soon after that announcement, we included the opportunity for consumers to turn on the DNT signal, by adding DNT to IE9 in February 2011.

Our efforts to advance privacy, choice and control in Windows 8 build on the work we have done with Windows and IE in recent years. IE9 includes important privacy features, including Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs), which provide consumers with a powerful tool to manage their privacy and are only available in IE. While today’s announcement focuses on DNT, we remain committed to TPLs in IE10 in Windows.

We’ve made today’s decision because we believe in putting people first. We believe that consumers should have more control over how information about their online behavior is tracked, shared and used. Online advertising is an important part of the economy supporting publishers and content owners and helping businesses of all shapes and sizes to go to market. There is also value for consumers in personalized experiences and receiving advertising that is relevant to them.

Of course, we hope that many consumers will see this value and make a conscious choice to share information in order to receive more personalized ad content. For us, that is the key distinction. Consumers should be empowered to make an informed choice and, for these reasons, we believe that for IE10 in Windows 8, a privacy-by-default state for online behavioral advertising is the right approach.

Defining DNT for Websites

Sending a DNT signal from a browser is only part of the process. Obviously, for DNT to be effective, it is also important that websites have a common understanding of what the consumer expects when their browser sends the DNT signal. As well as engineering the world’s most used browser, Microsoft also owns and manages a growing advertising business – including a network that provides advertising to our own and other Web properties, so we have a unique perspective into this discussion.

At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal, and we know that a uniform, industry-wide response will be the best way to provide a consistent consumer experience across the Web. We also know from experiences – such as the P3P standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – that initiatives to advance privacy are much less effective if other industry leaders don’t join in adopting the approach.

With this in mind, we are doing two things. First, we are committed to using our positions on the relevant industry, government and standards bodies to push for a clear action for advertising networks to respect a browser DNT signal and opt users out of behavioral advertising. Second, as we announced in February, Microsoft Advertising intends to treat the do-not-track browser signal as an opt-out of behavioral advertising under the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program. Microsoft does not yet respond to the DNT signal, but we are actively working with other advertising industry leaders on what an implementation plan for DNT might look like, with a goal of announcing more details about our plans in the coming months.

Our decision to turn on DNT by default in IE10 for Windows 8 should be seen as part of this discussion, as it helps to provide clarity on one side of the discussion – when and how browsers send the DNT signal – and because it advances the idea of privacy as the default state.

An Important Step to Build Trust Online

In a world where consumers live a large part of their lives online, it is critical that we build trust that their personal information will be treated with respect, and that they will be given a choice to have their information used for unexpected purposes. While there is still work to do in agreeing on an industry-wide definition of DNT, we believe turning on Do Not Track by default in IE10 on Windows 8 is an important step in this process of establishing privacy by default, putting consumers in control and building trust online.

Comments (31)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Another windows millenium/vista moment?

    why would Microsoft design a User interface designed for a Tablet to be used on a PC?

    does this company learn from its mistakes?

    take a page from apple (and i am someone that avoids apple)

    Learn where to stop.

    think i will do what happend when Vista was released stick with windows XP, this time stick with windows 7 (if i want a tablet i will buy a tablet)

  2. Simple steps says:

    Simple steps to keep your online privacy yours

  3. consumer says:

    Great step of Microsoft! Hopefully all the other (FireFox, Opera, Safari) (except Chrome I assume) follow!

  4. leandro says:

    "Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default."

    Wait. Where is my choice here? Please read this –…/do-not-track-its-the-users-voice-that-matters – and then, kindly, reply.

  5. Kari says:

    May god save Microsoft from bankruptcy because Microsoft seem to WANT bankruptcy.

    Windows 8 has been hailed by most tech engineers as a complete DISASTER of a change.

    Microsoft you are going with no doubt to take a HUGE blow from consumers as soon as people get the horrible taste out of they're mouths.

    God help you because Apple is going to SMITE you (I hate apple but even I am thinking about going to they're side rather than choose windows 8) And I don't even like Windows 7 & Mac os X is the third worst UI I have ever used.

    Windows 8 gets the top seat ironicly.

  6. KB says:

    I like Windows 7 and the idea of 'do not track'. Those wanting their 'choice' – it's a default, it can be customised I assume! Just as now, you are able to choose who to switch off from, you could choose to switch on to. It's a good privacy step for the majority and the minority who would like cookies can choose exactly where they come from. Good call. The Windows UI might not be the best, but it's reliable and usable whereas many other UIs are constantly changing little bits and making it impossible to keep up to date!

  7. anon says:

    MS should write a book about how to intentionally drive away users and blow what seemed an insurmountable lead.

    Under the best of intentions, yet another version of IE that will, by default, not work correctly with most large sites on the internet.  A very best case scenario is that it changes my internet experience drastically and makes me invest time to find out why and whether or not I want the change.  More likely, I will just use Chrome.  

    I love the DNT option, but DONT CHANGE MY EXPERIENCE BY DEFAULT!!!!

  8. donk says:

    Excellent approach. Kudos Mr. Lynch.

  9. Eduardo Carvalho says:

    By enabling DNT by default you are not increasing the user privacy. You are only making it less likely that anyone will ever comply with this proposal and make this spec as useless as the P3P is today.

    Unless DNT is required to be opt-out it's not a viable proposal.

  10. Jonathan says:

    I could not agree more with Eduardo. This is quite silly. We should also remember that not all tracking and advertising is evil. Actually it is what finances many websites and developers.

  11. Peter Cranstone says:


    Great post. Couple of items. 1) When will I.E. 10 be able to transmit the 0 and Null settings of the W3C DNT recommendation? And 2) Are you aware that DNT infringes on US. Pat 8,156,206


  12. alex says:

    Chrome is the world's most used browser, and Google for internet advertising.

    So I guess your browser and advertising platform are just in their last desperate oscar winning death throws to try and gain attention.


  13. Lee Roy Sanders Jr says:

    Windows 8 has a Very New Look.  I am glad that I can revert to the old desktop scene if I start getting paranoid about using this new system.  It is the marriage of something old and something new.  I am giving it a whirl.

    Microsoft's Systems are being used by so many programs that connect to the internet.  I hope that compatibility with what exists and that new to come continues to serve the world's consumer.  All the best.  Lee ki4jup..

  14. WB says:

    Makeing DNT header a default in IE10, will make DNS ineffective, because most sites will start ignoring it, because it will not reflect users choice, but browsers defauls. Bad move, Microsoft. Firefox implemented it correctly.

  15. Person says:

    @WB: I don't follow your logic. How is "off by default", as implemented by Firefox, a "users choice"? By definition, "by default" means that it's a default, and not a user's choice. Just because "OFF" is status quo doesn't mean that its more reflective of a user's choice. The only way to have true user choice is to prompt them and force a choice, which isn't what most consumers want. Most consumers want their privacy respected.

  16. O RLY says:

    "At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal…"

    "Microsoft does not yet respond to the DNT signal, but we are actively working with other advertising industry leaders on what an implementation plan for DNT might look like, with a goal of announcing more details about our plans in the coming months."

    So Microsoft has a stake in behavioral advertising, and there are no standards or enforcement.

    Wow. Bold move, Microsoft. Nice to know users have you in their corner.

  17. JimV says:

    For once, I'm happy to give high marks to Microsoft for the change.  I don't use IE for anything other than Windows Updates and a few sites which absolutely require ActiveX to function, and refuse to have Chrome anywhere on any of my computers.  I now rely on Firefox after using Opera for the past decade, and with both of those have long refused 3rd-party cookies and immediately enabled the "do-not-track" feature as soon as it became available.

  18. jon says:

    What childish rubbish. As revenge on chrome for barring IE7 from youtube, or its IE's probably fictitious issues with Orkut, or for not investing in a search engine years ago, or for improving its own browser, Microsoft, in a PR stunt with an agenda and an irony of all-sorts claiming to be on the side of the consumer, makes its browser non-compliant with W3C that'll entirely justify everyone from bypassing the DNT feature in IE10.

  19. laura patterson says:

    why do i have mozilla foxfire insted of internet explorer 8

  20. Ari Rosenberg says:

    Brendon Lynch you are a hero — please do not back down from the pressure being applied for you to change this brave and most importantly a correct decision — I have written about this subject for Mediapost and always thought my feelings were falling on deaf ears — I am assuming you have never read me but it sure feels like you heard me!!!  Thank you!


  21. Arkady Bukh, Esq. says:

    Speaking of privacy and data leaks, I deal with many computer-related crimes in New York (…/computer-and-internet-fraud). It comes as a fact that the lion's share of all vulnerabilities used by the hackers stems from IE. I do give them credit for recent security updates. The DNT itself stipulates there was certain private info that was collected by IE and therefore could become accessible by hackers.

  22. Laurie2012 says:

    personally I do not like intrusive flashing ads in the middle of trying to read the selection that I am interested in.

    I find it an invasion of my privacy and the interpretationof what I am supposedly interested in that is being tracked in not always correct.

  23. NY Giants says:

    Kudos to Microsoft for making a stand with the "privacy-by-default" setting of IE 10. While the W3C DNT standard is going nowhere fast and it is useless in draft or final form for privacy protection; nonetheless, it's good to see that Microsoft is going in the right direction.

  24. Mohamed Izzat says:

    I like Windows 8 and I am looking forward to the final w 8

  25. dg3 says:

    The reason I don't care for it is because every time I go to a website where I pay a bill online I have to go through a big thing about my password and questions and my user name is out again.  Sometimes they have to send me a code so I can get back on because they don't know my computer.  Its easier if you have cookies actually.

  26. fabio moreira says:

    muito bom a microsoft é uma empresa de excelência


  27. heikki murula says:

    >Murulan Heikki heippa.Koneeni on sekaisin,välillä tulee ilmoitus,että ohjemani ei ole aito Miksowt.Mihin enää voi luottaa.Ajattelin asentaa Securen puhdistukst ja suojat.Kiitoa

  28. Gord says:

    Attaching or otherwise using cookies to follow, track, or use to target me & my email addresses is a gross invasion of my pricacy. When I use your service, I expect & demand the respect & privacy that your service claims to provide.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Microsoft activates do not monitor by way of Default in IE10 – Cross Zone

  30. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Microsoft activates do not monitor by way of Default in IE10 – Cross Zone

  31. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Microsoft activates do not monitor by way of Default in IE10 –

Skip to main content